I recently bought a DE0-nano FPGA development board, which I’m currently using to mine Bitcoins. It’s kind of a neat board, but one downside to it is that it uses linear regulators to provide the 1.2V core supply to the FPGA, and they’re incredibly inefficient at this. Only about 25% of the power supplied to them actually goes into the 1.2V supply; the other 75% is wasted as heat in the regulators. Since Bitcoin mining is very power-hungry, an awful lot of the power usage is in the 1.2V core supply and the regulators get really hot.
Fortunately, it’s possible to mod the board to use a more efficient external buck regulator to supply the 1.2 volts required by the FPGA core logic. (In theory this should even allow USB-powered mining; in practice this doesn’t seem to work for some reason.) If you look at the schematics, each of the main voltages on the board (ground, the supply voltage, 3.3V, and 1.2V) is brought out to a pair of pins on the 4-pin jumpers J5 and J6. There’s also a handy zero-ohm resistor across the input to the 1.2V regulator that can be removed to disable it.
DE0-Nano – Altera Cyclone IV FPGA starter board. For every day projects, microcontrollers are low-cost and easy to use. But when you have a project that needs raw power and high speed you may want to check out FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays). FPGAs are like raw chips that you can design by hand. They run very fast and very efficiently. They are designed for mass-parallel execution so they’re very good at handling a lot of I/O pins at once, especially for real time video or audio or emulation applications.
FPGAs are also a lot of fun, in that you really get to play with how chips are designed. Unfortunately, we didn’t study FPGA’s in school and so we missed out on learning how to use them. When we saw this Altera starter pack, we thought it would be a great first FPGA board – compact but not ‘bare bones’ – at a great price! There’s no paper book included, but there is a very detailed Altera FPGA training curriculum that a student could use as part of a self-taught FPGA adventure.
The package comes with a single DE0 Nano development board, mini USB cable (you can program and power the module over USB) and two CDs with the software necessary to ‘compile’ and ‘upload’ code to the board. The software is available for Windows and Linux computers (no Mac)
The module itself contains a nice collection of accessories:
We are angry, frustrated, and in pain because of the violence and murder of Black people by the police because of racism. We are in the fight AGAINST RACISM. George Floyd was murdered, his life stolen. The Adafruit teams have specific actions we’ve done, are doing, and will do together as a company and culture. We are asking the Adafruit community to get involved and share what you are doing. The Adafruit teams will not settle for a hash tag, a Tweet, or an icon change. We will work on real change, and that requires real action and real work together. That is what we will do each day, each month, each year – we will hold ourselves accountable and publish our collective efforts, partnerships, activism, donations, openly and publicly. Our blog and social media platforms will be utilized in actionable ways. Join us and the anti-racist efforts working to end police brutality, reform the criminal justice system, and dismantle the many other forms of systemic racism at work in this country, read more @ adafruit.com/blacklivesmatter
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.